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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Firefighters

A Firefighter Explains It.

with one comment

We rarely hear the Firefighter’s side of this dispute, which could leave many of them sacked and an inferior service left, here’s one Firefighter’s view:

“I have built up this experience and knowledge by constantly learning and improving my skills within the job. Like everybody in every job, boredom and being stale can sometimes creep in, this very rarely happens when you are a Firefighter. You are constantly aware that in the next few minutes you can be putting your life at risk to save others.

It isn’t a statement to take lightly either, we have very good safeguards in place to protect us, but ultimately, we will risk our lives at no second thought for our own. That’s how it works as a Firefighter. That’s why I joined this service and we should never forget that.

Unfortunately, since the first day I walked into my first fire station-Kingston, we have had the threat of job insecurity hanging over our heads, rumours of shift changes have been hanging around longer than the five years quoted for negotiations. It isn’t a nice feeling either, knowing the reasons behind the changes when no public seem to know, is a really stressful time. We cannot be heard behind all the spin and lies. “

[My emphasis.]

Update 1: This video clip explains the use of scabs and the massive payment, some £12 million, made to the company providing them, AssetCo:

Update 2: This piece explains the poor state of training for the “Stand-in fire crews”:

“While the London Fire Brigade insists private AssetCo stand-in crews are fully prepared, the contrast between their training and that of a full-time firefighter is striking.

AssetCo staff receive two weeks of tuition, while the normal basic course – preceded by a battery of medical and personality tests – is 14 weeks, followed by three years of on the job probationary learning.

“It can’t be compared,” Dave Green, of the Fire Brigades Union, said. “Our members get two weeks just on using breathing apparatus.”

Update 3: It seems that the Chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Brian Coleman, has received hospitality and a gift from the company providing strike breakers in the current dispute, Assetco:

“Tory Brian Coleman was wined and dined by the company he later hired to help break Monday’s strike by firefighters.

The fire chief also received a £350 Harvey Nichols Christmas hamper from AssetCo, just months before bosses signed a £12million deal to cover the strike.

London Fire Brigade’s register of gifts shows he was taken to dinner at plush restaurants by the firm’s chief John Shannon three times in the run-up to the deal.”

Update 4: Getting the Firefighter’s side of events is harder than it should be, but here’s a site with details of the dispute and proof of the proposed closure of Fire Stations at night.

Page 6 of this PDF document has the details.

Update 5: This is worthwhile reading, the Firefighters’ own comments on a thread from last month’s Evening Standard:

“Hello Vera, your comments deserve a reply. I clear around £1,900 a month as a Crew Manager. I pay 11% of my salary into my pension scheme. I agree with you that the army don’t earn enough. I do not part-time as i have a three year old to look after. After 18 years i am threatened with the sack if i do not give in to a bully who wants to ensure that i cannot get childcare for my son due to the length of my day shift. Its not quite as easy as it sounds to QUIT or RESIGN. Yes, what management are proposing is that bad, thats why we have no choice but to take action.
Posted by: Phil Jones | 10/10/2010 at 09:02 PM

Vera, ur view, albeit, missing the Point. Would hold weight if it didn’t come across as sour grapes that he didn’t get in to the fire service, due to our governments you would be hard pushed to find any job that didn’t have 20 ppl to go for it. Sounds like to me , your son should be in the army, he could then work hard for pittance, and undervalued by his government. You need to take the blinkers of Vera. We are all being ‘shafted’ FACT. As for this article, what a pointless waste of misinformed time spent, for a good wage no doubt.
Posted by: Lewis keeble | 10/10/2010 at 09:58 PM

Vera, ur view, albeit, missing the Point. Would hold weight if it didn’t come across as sour grapes that he didn’t get in to the fire service, due to our governments you would be hard pushed to find any job that didn’t have 20 ppl to go for it. Sounds like to me , your son should be in the army, he could then work hard for pittance, and undervalued by his government. You need to take the blinkers of Vera. We are all being ‘shafted’ FACT. As for this article, what a pointless waste of misinformed time spent, for a good wage no doubt.
Posted by: Lewis keeble | 10/10/2010 at 09:58 PM

Vera, Sour grapes? Do you work at all? What price would you you like to see firefighters be paid then? I am a serving firefighter, and have been for several years! With other commitments i dont do part time work. But this is out the question. We are not in dispute over money (your argument is all over money). If you were informed a little better you may realise this is all about how OUR managers are treating US, their employees! Unfairly, with the potential to reduce fire cover in the capital!!The Brigade is being run like a business, as if they’re trying to make money! Its a public service which needs to be maintained at a high level!
Cuts = People more at risk full stop. Would you be making those same comments if your lad managed to get into the Brigade?
I take my hat off to our brave soldiers! Now ask yourself, did they join for the money or for the job satisfaction and knowing they could make a difference?
I, like many other my colleauges joind the job to protect and help people in their time of need! I didnt join for the money! It was out the question for me!
Firefighters are called upon in the time of need, i dont think you really appreciate the extreme circumstances and intense pressure/temperatures we have to work in!
Posted by: Josh | 10/10/2010 at 10:12 PM”

Written by modernityblog

04/11/2010 at 18:49

Brian Coleman And The Firefighters.

with 6 comments

This video clip ably shows how political considerations are risking lives:

(Hat tip: John Gray)

Update 1: Whilst it is not about personalities, there is an overriding issue of safety and the possibility of privatisation, Brian Coleman is the Tory politician and axeman charged with beating the Firefighters into place and as such is deserving of scrutiny, the Daily Mirror has more on him:

“Snoozing at his desk, this is the fat-cat Tory chief responsible for negotiating an end to the bitter firefighters’ strike.

Brian Coleman, 49, who rakes in £114,322 a year – three and-a-half times the £33,000 average wage of a London firefighter – was pictured dozing in his office four years ago when he was vice chairman of the London Fire Authority.

He was appointed chief of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority by Mayor Boris Johnson in May 2008.

Both men were blasted yesterday for failing to end the increasingly bitter dispute over controversial new employment contracts. As firefighters staged another eight-hour walkout yesterday, 27 relief engines responded to 20 incidents, including eight fires.

Mr Coleman has responded to the strikes by threatening to sack those who do not sign the controversial new contracts.”

Update 2: Tory Troll has some excellent coverage of Coleman and his antics, including this:

During his time in office Brian has

Update 3: Not forgetting a blog dedicated Brian Coleman.

Update 4: There seems to have been some contention over Coleman’s activities so here is a bit of his Wiki entry:

“Breach of council code of conduct

In September 2009 Coleman was found to have broken Barnet Council’s code of conduct. The standards sub-committee upheld an independent report that he had failed to treat others with respect. The complaint was made by a local blogger who had received an email from Coleman calling him an “obsessive, poisonous individual”.[21][22]

Council leader Mike Freer granted Coleman £10,000 of taxpayer’s money to pay for legal representation during the standards committee investigation as he had rejected the solicitors provided by the councils insurance scheme.[23] When the local paper approached Coleman before they published this information he told them that “This has absolutely nothing to do with me, nothing whatsoever, and if you say otherwise you will be hearing from my solicitor.” [24]

Despite being found in breach, the standards sub-committee decided not impose a sanction.[25] Coleman will be liable to reimburse the council for the legal bill.[26]


Taxi fares

In July 2007 he was criticised by Livingstone for spending £10,000 on taxi fares from 1 April 2006 to 30 March 2007, compared to the average figure for a London Assembly member of around £845.[46][47][48] This period coincided with the six months that Coleman was banned from driving.

A GLA audit panel report in October 2007 showed that Coleman had run up taxi expenses of £1740 in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 August 2007.[49] This accounted for one third of all cab expenses for the Mayor and 25 GLA members. He was criticised by Livingstone for “creating a chauffeur service for himself” and by the leader of the Barnet Council Labour group for his “breathtaking arrogance”.[50]

A further GLA audit panel report in March 2008 revealed that Coleman had run up taxi expenses of £4157 in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 December 2007.[51] This accounted for half of all cab expenses for the Mayor and 25 GLA members. Livingstone said “Brian Coleman must explain to Londoners how he can possibly justify spending more on taxis in four weeks than the average Assembly member does in nine months.”[52]

When questioned about his cab fares by the Metro Newspaper, Coleman claimed not to use taxis but thought he was being ferried about in ‘an official GLA car’. They reported that in December 2007 he ran up a £412.50 cab fare on a round-trip from his home in Finchley to a nearby meeting where the driver kept the meter running before taking him to City Hall.[53]

Another GLA audit panel report in July 2008 revealed that Coleman had run up taxi expenses of £8231 in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008.[54] This accounted for nearly half of all the cab expenses of the Mayor and 25 assembly members. On one day alone Coleman ran up a cab bill of £656.[55] Speaking to the Metro Newspaper, assembly member Jenny Jones said that he justifies the expense because he has taken to wearing gold chains from another era – “He doesn’t need to wear these chains but his ego’s out of its cage”.[56]

London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority

Coleman was vice chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority from 2004 to 2008. Following the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor in May 2008, Coleman was appointed Chairman. An Audit Commission report published in February 2009 noted that “The Chairman is robust and challenging but staff and some external stakeholders find his style too confrontational.”[57]

In August 2008 Coleman claimed that he had been passed over for the post of chair of the Local Government Association fire services management committee due to homophobia by fellow Tories.[58]

Outlining areas of potential cutbacks to a London Assembly committee in September 2008, Coleman suggested that the London Fire Brigade Museum should be closed. He said that “having recently visited the fire brigade museum – we shook the cobwebs off the door as we opened it – I have to say that it is not a museum that is fit for purpose or that in my view contributes anything”, adding “when you’ve seen one brass helmet you have seen them all”.[59] Coleman’s outburst prompted a campaign to save the museum.[60] Val Shawcross, former chair of the LFEPA, stated that “Brian Coleman has an almost hysterical approach to the issues”.[61]

G20_Protest

In April 2009 Coleman blamed a protester, Nicky Fisher, atteding a vigil following the Death of Ian Tomlinson, who was killed during the G20 protests, as being to blame after being backhanded twice by a police officer and then struck on the legs with a baton.[62] “Nicky Fisher turned up to this protest, which everyone said could be violent. She put herself in this situation – and lo, she was hit. It’s like going gambling and then complaining that you’ve lost money”.[63] The officer involved had been suspended pending an investigation into their actions.

He subsequently setup a group on Facebook called “Commend a Copper”, however this group has become more anti-police than anything else.

Expenses

In July 2009 Coleman was the only London Assembly member to refuse to voluntarily publish details of their expense claims in a move towards greater transparency following the Parliamentary expenses scandal. He stated “I won’t do it voluntarily. It’s none of the public’s business”, and that “Politicians with lower expenses tend to be the politicians who do least work. Those with higher expenses are the ones who do most work.”[64] Coleman complied following pressure from Mayor Boris Johnson. “

Not a very edifying record.

Written by modernityblog

03/11/2010 at 23:35

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